Accident law is another term for the practice of law that protects those who sustain injuries due to the recklessness or negligence of another. Occasionally, actions with the sole intent to cause harm to another fall under the umbrella of Personal Injury Law. Whether it’s a private citizen, business owner, or a healthcare professional, these acts of negligence or recklessness result in a risk to public safety. These acts can even cause wrongful death.
Personal Injury law can first and foremost be defined in the following way:
“[…]physical injury inflicted on a person’s body, as opposed to damage to property or reputation.”
In the days and weeks following an accident or a wrongful death due to the consequences of someone else’s injurious behavior, it’s important for an accident victim with the potential for legal action to understand their legal rights as they pertain to the area of Personal Injury law. This writeup will cover:
- What is the true definition of “accident law”?
- When does a case go to trial?
- A formal lawsuit or a settlement during mediation?
- Understanding the Statute of Limitations in Florida
What is the true definition of “accident law”?
A “Personal Injury” case can arise when one sustains injuries or a wrongful death occurs. Accident law applies when an accident is not the fault of the victim. When a victim sustains injuries in a slip and fall accident or sustains a TBI as a result of car accident, someone else may be responsible. If loss of life results as the consequence of an act of negligence or recklessness, this is a “wrongful death”.
When does a Personal Injury case go to trial?
Personal Injury cases can become “formal lawsuits” when legal representation is retained. Depending on the facts of the case, some may settle during mediation, if the financial compensation able to be recovered is sufficient at that level–if not, the case must go to trial. When the dollar amount offered during a mediation isn’t considered to be sufficient as it relates to the injuries a victim sustained, civil court proceedings (trial, litigation) are then used to determine the amount of damages owed. The latter is referred to as a verdict, and is ruled upon by a judge.
Under normal circumstances, a settlement offer occurs before any lawsuit is filed and is preferable in many cases. A mediation can, in certain cases, save time and money for all parties involved and can be highly preferable to a lengthy trial. The most experienced lawyers tend to opt for mediation whenever this method of Alternative Dispute Resolution is most beneficial to the client. An experienced Personal Injury lawyer is prepared for however a case must proceed.
A formal lawsuit or a settlement during mediation?
Let’s explore the two distinctions and expand on their differences:
- Formal lawsuit: While a criminal case is initiated by the government (either at a state or federal level), a formal Personal Injury claim is generally initiated when a private citizen (known as the “plaintiff”, the victim who sustained injuries) retains a Board Certified civil trial lawyer who files a civil “complaint” against another individual (known as the “defendant”, usually an insurance company) and formally alleges that they acted in a manner that can be considered reckless, careless, or negligent enough to cause serious bodily harm or death.
- Settlement during mediation: When it comes down to the wire, many Personal Injury cases that allege fault against an individual or a business due to serious bodily harm, illness, or injury, or in extreme cases the wrongful death of a loved one are resolved during mediation, when a settlement is reached that is sufficient to provide both quality of life and lost wages on behalf of a victim or surviving family members. Those involved are normally the team of lawyers for the insurance company, and the injured party together with their legal representation. If a settlement can be reached during a mediation (a form of Alternative Dispute Resolution), then no further legal action is required, and both client and lawyer receive the agreed upon compensation.
The Statute of Limitations in Florida
Victims (“plaintiffs”) are limited in the amount of time they have to file a lawsuit. This is Florida’s “Statute of Limitations”; it is (2) two years.
If the plaintiff exceeds the two-year Statute in which they have a right to file a lawsuit, they forfeit any potential financial compensation. The judge will dismiss the complaint every time, no matter how credible the case. There are very few instances where what’s known as the “Discovery Rule” can be applied. This legal principle is normally only used in cases where a wrongful death occurred, as the victim is no longer alive to speak on their own behalf, and consideration must be given to how long they were aware of their illness or injuries.
A handful of states are making attempts to summarize Personal Injury law within written Statutes of their own. However for now, many practical reasons deem that mediation, and when necessary, court verdicts, remain the official standard of law in cases resulting from injuries a victim sustains during an accident.
…Personal Injury law is about people
While other areas of law abide by rules found within Statutes (penal codes), much of Personal Injury law allows decisions to made by a judge. Sometimes, settlements are reached during a mediation between a Personal Injury lawyer and the insurance company. Moral ethics as well as unbiased compassion must be at the forefront of decisions being made regarding compensation. Each case is unique. The goal of a great Personal Injury lawyer is restoring quality of life for those who sustain life altering injuries.